CURRENT SITUATION UPDATE – MAY 26, 2020

I have combined information from press conferences, news releases and other sources from yesterday and today. Anything in green is an update on something from the last one I sent out or on an outbreak. Anything in bold and italics are my comments. 

If you would like to see anything that I sent out previously, or have a question on a particular topic, please ask me and I will be pleased to send to you whatever I have. 

If anyone has anything helpful to add, please send it to me and I will include it. Linda

  • Potential Treatments 
  • Around the World
  • Canada
  • Other Provinces
  • Alberta
  • Good News Stories

POTENTIAL TREATMENTS/TESTS

Hydroxychloroquine 

          WHO has suspended the hydroxychloroquine “arm” of the COVID-19 treatment Solidarity Trial due to a study being published last week in the Lancet showing a potential higher mortality rate among severe COVID-19 patients taking the drug. They want to examine studies before continuing. 

          Alberta has also temporarily suspended a province-wide trial investigating its effectiveness as a potential treatment. 

The clinical trial is being led by University of Calgary and University of Alberta researchers, with support from the Alberta government and Alberta Health Services.

On Tuesday, U of C professor and co-lead of the study, Dr. Michael Hill, said temporarily halting the trial is a routine decision.

“This is exactly what trial safety is about,” Hill said. “We do this all the time in trials. We review the safety routinely and we ask those questions of: is it safe to continue?”

Hill said while the decision to pause was made due to safety concerns for the public, he noted that Alberta’s trial is very different from those citing safety concerns.

“A key thing to understand here is that the trial that was published in the Lancet — while it looked at a large number of patients — it was observational and it only applies to people who are already really sick with viral pneumonia from the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Hill said.

“We have a different approach. The trial we’re running is asking the question: among people who have just been infected, could we stop them from getting really sick?”

Hill also noted that a similar trial in the U.K. has decided to continue operations after deeming its trial safe for patients. He said that with no safety concerns of their own so far, he expects a similar outcome for Alberta’s trial.

“We’ll consider our data in the context of everything that’s happening globally,” Hill said. “I think the responsible thing to do is say, ‘There was a red flag, stop, step back and take a look.’”

Hill said the team has already met with the safety committee and will be doing so again on Friday to determine the trial’s safety.

Hill said if the trial is deemed safe to continue, some things may need to change moving forward.

“We’ll ask the question if it’s safe to continue with the current design and do we need to modify anything to ensure patient safety?” he said. Hill added that, if it’s safe to proceed, the team will also have to evaluate if the trial is feasible to continue. “Given all of the negative press, we have to ask if people will even want to be in the trial,” he said.

So far, 148 patients have enrolled in the Alberta study. Hill said, in the trial, patients are chosen at random in a 2:1 ratio to get the study drug or a placebo. He added that approximately 100 patients have received hydroxychloroquine. 

            Many doctors in the US have reported good results from hydroxychloroquine, however, they are not treating people who are very sick with COVID-19; they are treating people immediately or shortly after they have been diagnosed.  

–WORLD NEWS–

China Pursuing Domination 

            In addition to its actions in Hong Kong, China has been increasing efforts to dominate in areas. It has been busy in the South China Seas also. China created two new administrative districts to govern islands in the Spratly and Paracel chains that are also claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. China has made it known that any resistance will be crushed. Guns were aimed at a Filipino anti-submarine corvette earlier this year. 

            In another border dispute along the Line of Actual Control between China and India, patrols have faced off at four different locations in the past month. 

            Japan’s coastguard has recorded a consistently high number of Chinese ships in Japan’s territorial waters. Some in Japan believe conflict is inevitable, and that China is making the same mistake Japan did 80 years ago when it engaged in World War II in an effort to take the western Pacific by force.

            Canada finally joined in a rebuke of China following China’s actions in Hong Kong. Canada’s former ambassador in Beijing, David Mulroney, said that China has to follow through with action if Beijing enforces its new Hong Kong law. It remains to be seen if the Prime Minister will take action. On Monday, he said “it will be important for the Chinese government to engage in constructive conversations with the citizens of Hong Kong.”

World wide  5,688,840 cases; 352,287 deaths;  2,432,236 recoveries

Just to keep this in perspective: 

  • flu affects 1 billion people and causes 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)
  • The Spanish flu affected 1/3 of the people in the world at the time and killed between 50-100 million people. 

Around the World 

COVID-19 affects 213 countries and territories around the world. 

Brazil

  • Brazil has 394,507 cases (2,147 new today) and 24,593 deaths, 158,593 have recovered.
  • Brazil is the 2nd highest in the world, behind only the US. It is 6th in death toll, but these are likely very underreported. 

Britain

  • Britain now has 265,227 cases and 37,048 deaths. There is no information on recoveries.
  • UK remains the 5th highest in cases and is still the 2nd highest in total deaths. 
  • UK has the 3rd highest deaths per million people – 546 per million, behind Belgium and Spain.

France

  • France has 182,722 cases and 28,530 deaths, 65,879 people have recovered.
  • France is 7th in overall cases, and 5th in total deaths as well as 5th in deaths per million – 437 per million

Germany

  • Germany has 181,288 cases with 8,498 deaths, 162,200 people have recovered. 
  • Germany is 8th in overall cases, but its death toll is much lower than other countries with high case numbers.
  • Germany will begin to ease lockdown restrictions one week early on June 29 and will plan to ease travel restrictions for 31 European countries by mid-June. The countries would include the other 26 European Union countries, as well as Britain, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. 
  • Meetings in public places are expected to be limited to a maximum of q10 people or members of two households. While there would be no limit on the number of visitors allowed to visit in homes, there would need to be sufficient space for everyone to keep their distance and have enough fresh air. 

India

  • India now has 151,876 and 4,346 deaths, with 4,426 recoveries. 

Italy

  • Italy is now reporting 230,555 cases and 32,955 deaths, 144,5581 people have recovered.
  • Italy is 6th in overall case numbers.  
  • Italy now has the 4rd highest deaths per million people – 545 per million, behind Belgium and Spain, and UK.

Russia

  • Russia’s cases continue to climb but it has slipped to third in cases behind only the US and Brazil. Russia has 362,342 cases, 3,807 deaths and 131,129 are reported as recovered.

Spain

  • Spain is reporting 283,339 cases and 27,117 deaths, 196,958 people have recovered.
  • Spain is still in 4th highest in cases behind the US, Brazil and Russia, and increased to 4th spot in deaths behind US, UK, and Italy.
  • However, Spain is the 2nd  highest in deaths per million population – 580 per million people, behind only Belgium. 
  • Spain urged its EU partners to set up common rules,  including potential health checks for passengers, to open up borders and re-establish freedom of travel. 
  • The government declared a 10-day official mourning period from Wednesday to honour the country’s dead from the pandemic. The period will end with a ceremony led by the King Felipe.  

United States

  • The US now has 1,725,275 cases and 100,572 deaths, 479,969 have recovered.
  • US deaths are 304 per million people, 9th behind Belgium, Spain, Italy, UK, France, Sweden the Netherlands, and Ireland. 
  • The New York Stock Exchange floor reopened today, posting solid gains as trading restarted.  

Canada  

  • Confirmed cases         86,636
  • Probable cases                    11
  • Deaths                          6,639
  • Recoveries                  45,339
  • No. of Tests:          1,502,990

Areas in Canada with cases of COVID-19 as of MAY 26, 5:00 pm MDT

Province, territory or other                    Confirmed        Probable       Deaths   Recovered

  • British Columbia                                       2,541                   0             161           2,102
  • Alberta                                                       6,901                   0             139           5,979
  • Saskatchewan                                              634                   0                 8              546
  • Manitoba                                                     281                 11                 7              268
  • Ontario                                                    26,191                   0          2,123         19,958
  • Quebec                                                    48,598                   0          4,139         14,654
  • New Brunswick                                           122                   0                 0              120
  • Nova Scotia                                               1,052                   0               59              974
  • Prince Edward Island                                  27                   0                 0                27
  • Newfoundland and Labrador                  260                   0                 3              254
  • Yukon                                                             11                   0                 0                11
  • Northwest Territories                                   5                   0                 0                  5
  • Nunavut                                                            0                   0                 0                  0
  • Repatriated travellers                                  13                   0                 0     Unknown

Up-to-date information is available at Canada.ca/COVID-19

–Canadian News –

Seniors’ Homes in Deplorable Conditions 

          A Canadian military report released today describes horrific conditions at five long-term care homes in Ontario. One home used narcotics to sedate patients who were scared about being confined to their rooms during the pandemic lockdown. Two residences were infested with cockroaches and residents were left in soiled diapers and filth for weeks. In one of the homes staff took hours to respond to cries for help after residents had fallen out of bed. Another home was force-feeding residents, causing audible choking, and one death is being looked into. The report outlined failure to properly use PPE, even by doctors, as well as staff moving between infected and uninfected patients without changing PPE. In addition, infected patients were in rooms with uninfected patients.  

          All of the homes but one are owned by private, for-profit companies. Eatonville Care Centre and Hawthorne Place Care Centre are owned by Rykka Care Centres. Orchard Villa in Pickering, where 69 residents have died of the virus, is the home under investigation for a resident choking to death while being fed lying down. 

          The other two homes are Altamont Care in Toronto and Holland Christian Homes in Brampton. 

          Residents’ families have been trying to alert the provincial government to problems at the homes, but the full extent wasn’t known until the military was called in to help at the homes. 

          The report was given to the federal government on May 11, but not released to the public until today. Prime Minister Trudeau called the report “disturbing” and said he had not seen the report till last week, but did not explain why the report had not been publicly released sooner. 

          Premier Doug Ford called the report “appalling” and “disgusting,” and vowed to take action. 

          Four of Quebec long-term care residences were cited in a separate report as being unsafe. Vigi Dollard-des-Ormeaux home in Montreal’s West Island describes an understaffed, poorly equipped facility where workers kept moving between infected and uninfected areas without properly donning or removing protective gear.  

          At the Lafleche long-term care in Shawinigan, where 44 residents died, there was staff shortages and lack of PPE. The highest death toll in Quebec was at Sainte-Dorothee, in Laval, where 92 have died. In Sainte-Dorothee, employees with COVID-19 symptoms were required to show up for work. All staff were not issued masks even though physical distancing was not always possible. 

          36 military personnel working in the homes have also contracted COVID-19.

          Revera is being sued by families of residents of McKenzie Towne in Calgary where Alberta Health Services had to take over running of the residence after large numbers of residents became ill with COVID-19 and many died. Revera is owned by the federal government. 

NDP Support Liberal Plan to Suspend Regular Sittings of Parliament

          The NDP supported the federal Liberals in suspending the regular sitting of Parliament for four months, over the objections of the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois.  The NDP also supported a motion to shut down debate. The deal with the Liberals was for a pledge that Prime Minister Trudeau would work with the provinces toward a new national system of 10 days of paid sick leave.

          The deal allows the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic to meet 4 days a week until June 18, only to discuss the pandemic. 

          Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet dismissed the deal as interfering in provincial jurisdiction over labour laws. Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen accused the government of avoiding scrutiny. 

          Current Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Yves Giroux and former PBO Kevin Page are raising questions about a section of the deal that will limit a House of Commons review of billions of dollars in new spending to no more than 4 hours. The new spending announced by the government, up to over $150 billion so far, as well as any more spending, must be approved by the House on June 17, after no more than 4 hours of debate. The current and former PBO are concerned that there will not be sufficient time to provide information to MPs and for questions to be answered in such a short period. The deficit is likely now at $260 billion. 

          No details have been provided on the proposed sick leave, such as whether it would be paid for by the federal or provincial governments or by private employers. 

Provinces

Manitoba

  • Premier Brian Pallister has announced $200 cheques to go to people living with disabilities and who are on social assistance. The money is to help cover extra costs, such as food and prescription drug delivery. The cheques will be mailed in June.  

New Brunswick

  • New Brunswick had one new case today, a person in the 90s in the Campbelltown region in the north of the province. 
  • The New Brunswick legislature sat today, and is scheduled to sit Tuesday to Thursday for 4 weeks. 

North West Territories

  • NWT is strictly enforcing its no-visitors rule. In the last 2 weeks, there were a couple of separate cases of people arriving in Yellowknife who are not residents or essential workers. NWT puts them up for the night and sends them right back the next day. 
  • People returning to NWT must go into self-isolation for 14 days. 
  • It has been over a month since the NWT has had a case of COVID-19. The chief health officer says restrictions will stay in place until a vaccine is available.

Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia has 1,052 confirmed cases and 59 deaths. 7 are in hospital, 3 in intensive care, and 976 have recovered.
  • The worst outbreak has been at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax where 52 people have died. 

Ontario

  • The numbers of people in hospital and in ICU continue to decrease, and only 300 new cases were reported today. 
  • Premier Doug Ford vows action on the military report on long-term care homes in Ontario. 
  • Officials in Toronto will pilot new distancing measures in Trinity Bellwoods Park, painting circles on the grass, in order to avoid a repeat of the huge crowds that gathered there on Saturday. 
  • Toronto-based Porter Airlines has cancelled flights for another month and does not plan to resume flights until July 29. 
  • As a heat wave continues in Ontario, officials in Toronto plan to open 6 emergency cooling centres across the centre. Strict infection prevention and control protocols will  be in place. 

Prince Edward Island

  • Prince Edward Island’s legislature met today for the first time since the pandemic started. Desks have been moved apart to allow proper physical distancing and there is no seating available for the media or public. 

Quebec

  • Quebec long-term care homes came under fire today, as well, and Quebec has asked the military to stay longer. 
  • Quebec is offering Cirque de Soleil a $200 million loan to stay afloat. 

Saskatchewan

  • Saskatchewan has 77 active cases, with all but one in the north and far north. 5 people are in hospital, with 3 in intensive care.  549 people have recovered. 

Alberta

MAY 26, 2020, 5:15 p.m.

Alberta Legislature to Resume Sitting May 27

            Unlike its federal counterpart, the Alberta Legislature is set to resume work on May 27.  Jason  Nixon, Government House Leader said that “…the need for government to be laser-focused on job creation, creating certainty for industry and protecting vulnerable Albertans has never been more acute. These will be our main goals as we ease into relaunching the province.”

            At least 10 pieces of legislation will be introduced, including affirming parental rights to make important choices about their children’s education, strengthening public safety and cutting red tape. 

            MLAs will continue to practise physical distancing while in the chamber, and will ensure democratic accountability while making every effort to reduce contact between members. 

–OTHER NEWS —

Banff Welcoming Visitors

            After asking people not to visit for the last two months, Banff is welcoming visitors once again. A section of Banff Avenue will be shut down from June 5 to Sept 11 to allow more space for pedestrians to physically distance. Not all restaurants and businesses are open yet. And the National Park facilities are still closed.

Case updates

The number of active cases, hospitalizations and people in ICU continue to go down. 

There have been 22 new cases today, making 714 total active cases. 6,048 people have recovered.  Only 45 people are now in hospital, and 5 remain in ICU. There has been 1 more death, a woman in her 80s in long-term care in the North zone. 

Latest updates

  • 22 new cases have been reported, bringing the number of active cases to 714. 5,979 people have recovered.
  • Cases have been identified in all zones across the province: 
    • 561 active cases and 4,123 recovered cases in the Calgary zone
    • 80 active cases and 1,146 recovered cases in the South zone
    • 49 active cases and 462 recovered cases in the Edmonton zone
    • 19 active cases and 200 recovered cases in the North zone
    • 3 active cases and 95 recovered cases in the Central zone
    • 2 active cases and 22 recovered cases in zones yet to be confirmed
    • Additional information, including the total number of cases, is reported online.
  • There have been 632 cases to date with an unknown exposure.
  • The total deaths are 139: 101 in the Calgary zone; 16 in the North zone; 13 in the Edmonton zone; 8 in the South zone; and one in the Central zone.
  • There are 61 active cases and 649 recovered cases at continuing care facilities. 104 residents at these facilities have died.
  • So far, 221,173 Albertans have been tested and labs have performed 242,781 tests, with 2,982  tests completed in the last 24 hours.
  • Any individual exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath, is eligible for testing. People can access testing by completing the COVID-19 self-assessment online. A separate self-assessment tool is available for health-care and shelter workers, enforcement and first responders. 
  • Aggregate data, showing cases by age range and zone, as well as by local geographic areas, is available online at alberta.ca/covid19statistics.

 (Central zone and areas around Calgary includes:

  • Ponoka County – 3 cases, 1 active, 0 deaths, 2 recovered
  • City of Camrose – 2 cases, 0 active, 1 death, 1 recovered
  • County of Camrose – 1 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 1 recovered
  • Red Deer – 37 cases; 1 active, 0 deaths, 36 recovered
  • City of Lacombe – 2 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 2 recovered
  • County of Lacombe – 3 cases; 0 active, 0 deaths; 3 recovered
  • Clearwater County – 3 cases, 1 active, 0 death; 2 recovered
  • County of Stettler – 3 cases, 0 active, 0 death; 3 recovered
  • Red Deer County – 16 cases, 1 active, 0 deaths, 15 recovered
  • Clearwater County – 2 cases; 0 active, 0 deaths; 2 recovered
  • Mountain View County – 9 cases, 2 active, 0 deaths, 7 recovered
  • Kneehill County – 4 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths; 4 recovered
  • MD of Bighorn – 18 cases; 0 active, 0 deaths; 18 recovered
  • MD of Rockyview – 44 cases; 5 active, 0 deaths; 39 recovered
  • Wheatland County – 10 cases; 2 active, 0 deaths; 8 recovered
  • ID No. 9 (Banff & Canmore) – 4 cases; 1 active, 0 deaths; 3 recovered
  • Foothills County – 728 cases, 23 active, 8 deaths; 697 recovered
  • City of Airdrie – 47 cases, 4 active, 1 deaths, 42 recovered
  • City of Calgary – 3882 cases;  520 active, 92 deaths; 3270 recovered
  • City of Brooks – 1095 cases, 41 active, 7 deaths, 1047 recovered
  • County of Newell – 15 cases, 2 active, 0 deaths; 13 recovered
  • Special Areas No. 2 – 2 cases; 0 active, 1 death; 1 recovered

I am including smaller towns within counties, where I can get the information.  The total of each smaller town is also included in the country total. If there is a town I have not included that you would like to see, please let me know and I will see if I can get that info. Sometimes more than 1 town is lumped in together or not separated from the county figures – for example, Penhold, Blackfalds and the area around Red Deer is included in Red Deer County figures. 

  • Black Diamond – 29 cases, 3 active, 0 deaths, 26 recovered
  • Canmore – 18 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 18 recovered
  • Cochrane-Springbank – 21 cases, 3 active, 0 deaths, 18 recovered
  • Crossfield  6 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 6 recovered
  • Chestermere – 32 cases, 3 active, 0 deaths, 29 recovered
  • Didsbury/Carstairs – 5 cases,1 active, 0 deaths, 4 recovered
  • Drumheller – 2 cases, 2 active
  • High River – 537 cases, 12 active, 7 deaths, 518 recovered
  • Innisfail/Bowden – 1 case, 0 active, 0 deaths, 1 recovered
  • Okotoks – Priddis – 165 cases, 9 active, 1 deaths, 155 recovered
  • Olds – 3 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 3 recovered
  • Rocky Mountain House – 1 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 1 recovered
  • Strathmore – 23 cases, 3 active, 0 deaths, 20 recovered
  • Sundre – 2 case, 1active, 0 deaths, 1 recovered
  • Sylvan Lake – 3 cases, 0 active; 0 deaths; 3 recovered
  • Three Hills / Highway 21 – 4 cases, 0 active, 0 deaths, 4 recovered

OUTBREAK SITES 

  • Outbreak = 2 or more cases which indicates community spread in the facility. Congregate sites are required to report even 1 possible case. Outbreak is declared over when 4 weeks have passed with no new cases. 
  • Long-term care and supported living facilities with COVID-19 cases:   I have included the information from the Alberta government website plus information from other sources. 
  • If a site is no longer on the list it is because there have been no new cases for four  weeks.
  • There are 61 active cases and 649 recovered cases at continuing care facilities. 104 residents at these facilities have died.
  • Academy of Aging, Calgary
  • AgeCare Sunrise Gardens, Brooks
  • Bethany Care Centre, Calgary seniors home in the NW has confirmed 2 cases; one is a resident and 1 a staff member. The resident has since died. 
  • Bow View Manor, Calgary – this site was declared outbreak free, then another case occurred in a staff member acquired outside of the facility. There are no cases in other staff members or residents. 
  • Carewest Sarcee, Calgary has 12 cases and 2 deaths. 
  • Clifton Manor, Calgary, now has 27 confirmed cases among residents and 18 in staff for a total of 45 cases, and 7 deaths; 13 residents and 12 staff have recovered.
  • Hillcrest Extendicare, Calgary, 2 deaths
  • High River Long term Care (in High River Hospital) – 2 deaths
  • , 2 deaths. 
  • Intercare  Chinook Care Centre, Calgary
  • JB Wood Continuing Care, High Prairie, 4 deaths
  • Kensington Village – Shepherd’s Care – 37 cases – 29 have recovered, 4 deaths
  • Manoir du Lac Retirement Home in McLennan. The last numbers were 38 confirmed cases and 7 deaths. 
  • McKenzie Towne Long Term Care, Calgary, 114 confirmed cases, 20 deaths. A new positive case was identified. 
  • Millrise Place, Calgary
  • Monterey Seniors Village, Calgary
  • Proverbium 3 Homes Inc., Calgary
  • Providence Care Centre, Calgary
  • Sunrise Gardens, Brooks

Other outbreak sites:

  • Amazon Distribution Centre, Balzac
  • APS Calgary
  • Calgary Alpha House 
  • Calgary Drop-in Rehab Centre Society, Calgary – 10 cases, 2 recovered
  • Calgary Refrigerated Warehouse, Calgary
  • Canada Post, Calgary
  • Cargill Meat Processing Plant/High River– 
  • Cascade Recovery+, Calgary, 14 cases
  • Fibrebuilt Manufacturing, Calagry
  • Flyers force, Calgary
  • Golden Happiness Bakery
  • Harmony Beef – Meat packing,
  • Rocky View County Horizon Work Camp, Fort McMurray -5 cases
  • JBS Foods/Brooks  
  • Kearl Lake work camp north of Fort McMurray – there have now been 107 cases over a 6 week period.  Strict measures are in place which has reduced further spread.
  • McDonalds, Brooks
  • Midtown Co-op, Calgary
  • Purolator, Calgary – 59 employees, 5 have recovered so far
  • Terashita’s No Frills, BrooksSubaru, CalgaryThomas Fresh, Calgary 

Aggressive measures are being implemented in all outbreaks and they are affective.  AHS and Public Health has learned from the earlier outbreaks and is putting aggressive measures in place immediately an outbreak is identified. Exposures that happened before measures put in place can continue to happen for up to 2 weeks because of the long incubation period. 

ABTraceTogether app

  • The ABTraceTogether app will enhance current manual contact tracing and capacity, and facilitate early detection to help reduce the spread of the virus and better protect Albertans. It means Albertans will be contacted more quickly if they are at risk.
  • Use of the app is voluntary; users must opt in.
  • The app does not track the user’s physical location and does not use GPS. Protecting privacy is paramount; all contact data is only on the user’s phone and is deleted after 21 days.  
  • Secure contact tracing is a cornerstone of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy. More information on the app, including links to download it, can be found online.
  • Since its launch, the app has attracted 192.969 registered users.

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